“I’ve had all the disadvantages required for success “
I was 21 years old when I dropped out of college. Packed everything I owned jeans, T-shirts, leather jacket, guitar ,into my car and drove to chicago to Berkeley California. During my californian springs and summers I spent most of my days in the High Sierra and Yosemite valley , working as a river guide and rock climbing instructor. i loved to do those jobs , but unfortunately they didn’t pay that well , so I also got a job working a couple of days a week as a computer programmer back in berkley.
I had learned to code back in college , I didn’t love programming but it was fun and I was good at it , and computer programming gave me the same kind of satisfaction of solving maths problems and playing chess , both things I enjoyed before I became a confused teenager.
At this point of my life, I thought I was making real progress on my journey of self discovery . I found a cause , I had a couple of jobs that I love and one that was fun and paid the bills , I was pretty happy with my life . My wife was not ! What she saw was a college dropout who spent too much time in the mountains doing foolish things. She wanted me to work full time as a computer programmer or go back to college and finish my degree.
I started taking classes at UC Berkeley ,I took several classes but the only one I can remember was a sailing class taught at Berkeley Marina . Once again I fell in love and began a life long affair , with a limitless omnipotent pacific ocean. My class was over, I wanted to buy a sailboat . My wife said this was the single stupidest idea she had ever heard in her entire life, she accused me of being irresponsible and she told me I lacked ambition , she kicked me out and divorced me . This was a pivotal moment in my life but this time I was not disappointed in myself, their dreams and my dreams were different , I would never confuse the two of them again. I searched and I searched but I just could not find a software engineer job that I loved as much as I loved sailing , so I tried to create one .
I put together a plan to start my own company , that way I could completely control my work environment, my goal was to create the perfect job for me , a job I truly liked . Hired the most talented software engineers in silicon valley. We assembled an all star team of gifted programmers, who were among the best in the world at what they did, that team was a one crazy idea , it gave birth to a giant company .
I call it a crazy idea , because at the time everyone told me it was a crazy idea. And when you start telling people that all the experts are wrong , at first they call you arrogant ant then they say “you are crazy” . When people start telling you that you are crazy ,you just might be onto the most important innovation of your life .
The idea was to build the world’s first relation database, and IBM was building a prototype in their research labs. But back then , the collective wisdom of computer experts where relational databases could be built they would never be fast enough to be useful. This is one of those times when the experts were wrong , arrogance and insanity turned out to be innovation in disguise . As the information age moved from dawn to the fulllight of day , technology horizons were constantly shifting, revealing a brave and exciting world of new opportunities and new possibilities.
Oracle doubled in size year after year after year after year for ten years. I have set out to create the perfect programming job for me, instead I created a job where I had a start programing altogether, instead I was running a company with thousands and thousands of people , that was growing so fast, that it was impossible for anyone to control.
In a constantly changing world , what is possible is moving target. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try lots of different things. And don’t let the experts discourage you when you challenge the status quo , each of you has a chance to discover who you are , rather than who you should be , a chance to live your dreams , not the dreams of others. Each of you has an obligation to commit to a righteous cause , one that elevates you and improves the conditions of humanity and the planet. Until you find a job that ignites your passions, like I did, even better . You just might find one that you love.
You have to believe in what you do in order to get what you want .